Sunday, November 09, 2008


Living in an outport at the edge of the earth has some downsides. I often write of the upsides, the people, the sense of community, the peace, the beauty, the sea, the trees, the beaches.

But there are downsides. Since I am living way out over there adrift in mid-Atlantic, it is extremely difficult to get good handiwork, impossible to get deliveries of merchandise and in spite of loud activism on my part, we still have the dial-up doldrums to contend with in an age of high tech entrepreneurial businesses desperately needing broadband.

The latest on my downside of life here is a painting project I’ve started in the interior of the house. My cleaner told me she was a great painter and thrilled, I chose the colours. It took me a while, would I be brave on the palette, wouldn’t I, waffle, waffle and finally the plunge, let’s go all Frida Kahlo here. I’ve been in her house in Mexico City and loved the colours. The old Newfoundland colours have been reborn here by a paint company. They are incredibly clear and crisp. Kahlo-ish. So that’s what I did. I chose some strong, sunny colours. The hardest part of the job over, I thought.


I was assured by my painter at the start that drop cloths, tools, moving of objects would all be taken care of. I wasn’t to worry about a thing. When people say that to me I always worry. Why do they say it? I think they’re assuring themselves. Based on past history, perhaps.

Last Tuesday was the start of the job. Just two rooms for now. The kitchen/dining room and the living room. There were nails to be pulled and holes to be patched and sanded. This created an incredible layer of white dust over everything including all the open shelves in the kitchen, all through my knitting baskets and sewing boxes. An auspicious beginning, sans dropcloths. But I remained positive as I retreated to my room.

My office, my den, my inner sanctum has remained untouched at my insistence and I stay there, listening to a loud wailing from way out back in her work area.

Her groans and moans could come from the very heart of Hades itself. Her chorus involves the walls - oh, so crooked, oh, not made of the right kind of wood, oh, not taking the colour well. Next verse tells me her neck is all out of whack from looking up at the ceiling. I try not to get nervous.

“Are you okay?” I shout above the din.

“Best kind, honey,” comes the response and silence reigns for five minutes until she starts up again with the caterwauling.

So finally, after about an hour, I go out and inspect the painting and notice there is only one working tool, one tiny paintbrush and not a whiff of masking tape anywhere in sight.

WTF, I think.

“Hey,” I say, friendly-like, “Don’t you have rollers and tape and bigger brushes?”

“Well no,” she says, suspicious-like, “I only always work with this here one brush.”

“Doesn’t it like, take forever?”

“I has to do a good job, right? This here brush does a good job.”

I survey the streaks all over the walls, the crooked line at the top of the wainscoting.

I adjust my face to reflect a modicum of disappointment rather than homicidal intent. I do not trust myself to speak.

“Oh,” she says brightly, “This is only the first coat.”


  1. (chuckles)...Your painting lady went to the same school of home decorating as I did, WWW!

    My sympathies! I hope that the second coat crowns her work - not that mine ever did - more often than not it crucified it. :-(

  2. oh dear!!! i applaud the bold color choice, but i fear for the result!

    we once hired a guy to patch and paint the spare bedroom--a tree had fallen on that corner of the house in a storm, and it was all stove in.

    he did, indeed, patch and paint. but he didn't know what he was doing, and within a year the patch had fallen out. we were very fortunate to find a guy who understood (actually, more than understood--LOVED) plaster. he fixed the wall with chicken wire and plaster and i don't know what all.

    but that first yi yi. here's hoping you don't have to have your house painted twice.

  3. T:
    I'm actually sorry I didn't do it myself, one room at a time. I'm in a horrible state of upheaval (she scrunched up curtains and threw them on the floor, etc. and she's my CLEANING LADY, FFS)and will be indefinitely it looks like.
    Awfully funny on the outside looking in ;^)

  4. Laurie:
    I have that feeling in the pit of my stomach, she might be the sister of your guy.
    And she's not coming back till Wednesday.
    I'm trying not to whimper pitifully.

  5. Now you know that old saying: something about, if you want a job done properly.....?

    Incidentally, have you checked out satellite broadband? It used to be very expensive but I believe has come down in price drastically of late. $50 a month seems to be the norm, which is more expensive than cable, but not much more.
    I believe Aliant offer a service in your area. Check out:
    if you haven't already done so. I believe they cover your area.
    Alternatively, you could give up the computer altogether, and take up painting and decorating.

  6. Oh dear. Sorry to have to say it, but it seems to me she absolutely doesn't know what she's doing and should be stopped right now. However if she's also your cleaner that's not so easy as maybe you'd have to find a new cleaner as well!

    It's so hard to tell in advance if someone's up to the job. Even personal recommendations can be unreliable. Usually there's something about a person's demeanour that tells you but I've had my share of disasters as well. Hope you can sort things out.

  7. RJA:
    Thank you so much for checking for me. However, Ken-Tech serves Labrador and area only and not this far south. I have checked out Satellite here and the costs are prohibitive and wonky service a lot of the time. I might invest if it were reliable but the few users in the area moan a lot.

  8. Oh even worse, Nick. Her brother is my guy Leo who does a lot of the maintenance and wood hauling around here. In a small community you are very trapped.
    I may just have to take over the work myself or sneak a couple of friends in to complete it!
    It is good for some laughs, however, I'm not as homicidal as I was!!


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